Written by Chris Pavone — Moving to Luxembourg with her very average husband Dexter, Kate Moore, who is an ex CIA agent turned full time mum, expects a life of leisure looking after the kids and touring Europe on weekends. What she doesn’t bargain for is discovering that her new best friends, Julia Maclean and husband Bill, are undercover FBI agents. As Kate delves deeper and deeper into what the Macleans are up to, her life begins to unravel and she soon realises the truth might be better left buried.
Yes, Kate and Dexter are The Expats of the book’s title and she has given up her exciting life so that he can take up a great job opportunity. Now Kate’s days are filled with mundane activities like coffee mornings and play dates. The only perk is traveling around Europe on weekends with her husband and two children. This might be the ideal life for some women but Kate is not your average wife and mother. In her former career, her days used to be filled with exciting and dangerous undercover missions around the world.
Kate soon has a network of friends but there is something not quite right about one expat American couple. Kate begins to worry that Julia and Bill Maclean could be investigating her for some of her actions whilst in the CIA. Delving deeper, she begins to worry that they are investigating her husband, Dexter. Worse still, could they be assassins? Kate enlists the help of some CIA connections and starts to investigate the Macleans. She digs deeper, and with Dexter acting suspiciously, it soon becomes clear that the Macleans are FBI agents and they are in fact onto Dexter. Kate finds herself immersed in a web of deceit and lies that threaten her family, her marriage, and her life…
Pavone has a background in publishing and The Expats is is a great debut novel – proving hugely popular since its release – because it leaves you guessing right up until the last line. The chapters are written from Kate’s point of view and flick between the Moores’ home in present day Paris to two years earlier in Luxembourg. Each chapter reveals a little more information, and this approach keeps you gripped, and anxious to unravel all the clues. Kate’s character is instantly engaging. I felt empathy towards her as she changed from exciting undercover CIA agent to full time mum with tedious day-to-day activities such as scrubbing toilets. Pavone drags you along through Kate’s journey of discovery as her life unfolds before her very eyes. Pavone’s time in Luxembourg has clearly helped him to write a convincing description of Kate and Dexter Moore living their lives as expats.
The constantant flipping between time frames and locations gets a little confusing, especially since each shift uncovers a new twist or lie. However, this may just spur you on to read faster, hoping everything will be brought together in a climactic ending. I look forward to whatever Pavone has in store next. It’s currently just 20p for Kindle, compared to £6.99 in iBook format.
Faber & Faber
CFL Rating: 4 Stars